Category Archives: corporate corruption

Associated Press reports, “Vermont Yankee has been hampered by problems this year.”

In frighteningly Onion-esque fashion (www.theonion.com), the Associated Press states one of the most obvious facts in current news (original article here). Yes, Vermont Yankee has been hampered by problems this year. This is due to the simple fact that Vermont Yankee was only built to serve up to this point.

Vermont Yankee was built on the specification that it would be shut down in 2012. To be fair, those guys did a pretty decent job building the plant based on those parameters.  I mean, other than the transformer fire in 2004 and the leaking underground pipes this year, there haven’t been any major issues.

But facts are facts. No matter how much energy is produced by the plant… and no matter how many jobs will be lost in the process, this plant was only designed to last this long. We know it’s not right to fool with Mother Nature. Well, it’s downright STUPID to fool with a nuke plant which has reached its expiration date. Any reasonable person knows this, right?

Entergy Nuclear must think we are pretty stupid, though. They tried to extend the operating life of the plant for another twenty years. Thankfully, some of the leaders in Vermont were strong and vocal enough to prevent this. But now they are talking about selling the plant? You have got to be kidding me!

Wake up, people. A new leak of radioactive materials sprung this weekend. Entergy’s spokesperson says it’s not harmful. Last I checked, radioactive materials were indeed harmful, even in small doses.

This is a pathetically typical example of a corporation’s attempt to cash out right as their investment is reaching maturity. Don’t let them abandon their responsibilities. Make sure they close Vermont Yankee as was the plan from the very beginning. Please.

wakethehellup.wordpress.com

Good morning, people! No one’s buying Enexus plot

I keep hearing the voice of Grace Slick at Woodstock (“Good morning, people!”) when I think about the reaction to Entergy’s attempt to spin-off their oldest, most toxic five plants into a separate company called Enexus. Dear God, I think we’re actually awake and aware and NOT going to allow this greedy shyster of a corporation to get away with dumping the debt that they committed to when they bought these old plants.

Whatever their strategy was to make a profit by buying a bunch of nuclear power plants nearing retirement age, they’re not likely to get away with it. As one of several recent signs of alarm clocks screaming from coast to coast, I am reassured and inspired.

Congratulations to the good people of the New York State Public Service Commission. They saw what just happened in Vermont and decided to take a “Wait and see” approach — at least until month’s end — as to how Entergy handles the mess it’s made at Vermont Yankee with the tritium leak… and the misleading testimony they gave a year earlier about whether their old, underground pipes were carrying radioactive materials, before they consider granting approval on the questionable Enexus plan.

Vermont Public Radio published an inspiring story yesterday entitled, “Troubles At Yankee Affecting Industry Elsewhere.” [http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/87399/] in which it was reported, “Entergy had tried to bolster its case by promising to reduce the new company’s debt by $500 million. The New York commission staff said that move did not go far enough, and that the deal was not in the public interest.”

Your humble reporter is quite pleased that they agree.

wakethehellup.wordpress.com

Related Stories:

NY PSC staff still against Entergy Enexus plan

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) – The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) staff said on Thursday it still did not think Entergy Corp’s (ETR.N) plan to spinoff its non-regulated nuclear power plants was in the public interest.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0415412620100304?type=marketsNews

N.Y.: Enexus shouldn’t include Vt. Yankee

By BOB AUDETTE
Friday March 5, 2010

BRATTLEBORO — Take Vermont Yankee out of the deal and we’ll think about it.

That was the response from the advisory staff of the New York Public Service Commission to an offer by Entergy to change the details of a proposed spin off of three nuclear reactors in the Empire State into a new company.

http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_14516778

NY regulators defer decision on Entergy spinoff

The Associated Press  March 4, 2010, 5:31PM ET

ALBANY, N.Y.

New York regulators have delayed a decision on Entergy Corp.’s plan to spin off its six nuclear plants, saying they’ll take comment on a set of potential conditions before ruling.

Public Service Commission staff recommended against approving the deal last month, primarily because the resulting company — Enexus Energy Corp. — could be financially shaky.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9E839E00.htm

Entergy scrambling to split off old nuke plants

Entergy has attempted another “special-of-the-day” offer to woo lawmakers into allowing one of their questionable business objectives to gain approval. On the eve of a discussion by New York’s Public Service Commission regarding Entergy’s devious plan to spin off its oldest, leaking nuclear power plants into a new and heavily debt-laden company (Enexus), Entergy offered  to reduce the amount of the new company’s initial debt load from $3.5 billion to a mere $3 billion. What a deal! With $500 million less debt, Entergy appears to be hoping that enough suckers will believe that this might cover the currenly-unknown costs of decommissioning a half-dozen toxic, old nuke plants before the corporation gets stuck paying their own bill.

Hey Entergy! Haven’t you heard? There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

wakethehellup.wordpress.com

As Katarzyna Klimasinska reports in BusinessWeek:

March 03, 2010

Entergy Offers Spinoff Debt Cut for N.Y. Approval

March 3 (Bloomberg) — Entergy Corp., owner of the second- largest group of U.S. nuclear power plants, proposed reducing long-term debt for a unit it plans to spin off, as it seeks New York’s approval for the transaction.

The New York State Public Service Commission is scheduled to discuss at a meeting in Albany tomorrow Entergy’s petition to separate six nuclear reactors into a new company.

Entergy, based in New Orleans, said in a filing dated yesterday that it would reduce the debt of the spinoff company to $3 billion from $3.5 billion. It is Entergy’s second offer to lower the unit’s debt since announcing the spinoff in November 2007.

The company, based in New Orleans, also proposed to contribute as much as $300 million to New York’s energy efficiency program, if power prices “exceed certain levels.”

The nuclear unit would own the James A. FitzPatrick and Indian Point power plants in New York as well as the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts and Vermont Yankee reactor in Vermont.

Original article: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-03/entergy-offers-spinoff-debt-cut-for-n-y-approval-update1-.html.

Why the focus on nuclear? Ten years and $645 MILLION in lobbying might explain it

I came across this enlightening piece from Harvey Wasserman last week. It scares me to think that our government can be bought… but I know I am naive and overly optimistic in this regard. Perhaps I shall start a “Buy a Senator” campaign and lay these cards plainly on the table. Care to make a donation?

$645 MILLION in Lipstick for a Dead Radioactive Pig

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 02/24/2010

The mystery has been solved.

Where is this “new reactor renaissance” coming from?

There has been no deep, thoughtful re-making or re-evaluation of atomic technology. No solution to the nuke waste problem. No making reactors economically sound. No private insurance against radioactive disasters by terror or error. No grassroots citizens now desperate to live near fragile containment domes and outtake pipes spewing radioactive tritium at 27 US reactors.

No, nothing about atomic energy has really changed.

Except this: $645 MILLION for lobbying Congress and the White House over the past ten years.

As reported by Judy Pasternak and a team of reporters at American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, filings with the Senate Office of Public Records show that members of the Nuclear Energy Institute and other reactor owner/operators admit spending that money on issues that “include legislation to promote construction of new nuclear power plants.”

Money has also gone to “other nuclear-related priorities” including “energy policy, Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste disposal, plant decommissioning costs, uranium issues, such as tariffs, re-enrichment and mining, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding.” But even that may not fully account for money spent on coal and other energy sources, or on media campaigning.

In short: think $64.5 million, EVERY YEAR since the coming of George W. Bush.

That’s $1 million per every US Senator and Representative, plus another, say $100 million for the White House, courts and media.

“I think that’s understated,” says Journalism Professor Karl Grossman of the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. The “torrent of lies” from General Electric and Westinghouse, the “Coke and Pepsi” of the nuclear industry, “has made the tobacco industry look like a piker.

Their past, present and/or future media mouthpieces, says Grossman, span CBS, NBC and a global phalanx of interlocking radio-TV-print directorates.

All are geared, adds MediaChannel.org’s Rory O’Connor, to flood the globe with “Nukespeak,” the Orwellian lingo that sells atomic power while rehtorically air brushing its costs and dangers.

Thus Noam Chomsky’s “manufacturing consent” has become an “outright purchase.”

Thus National Public Radio is now the Nuclear Proliferation Redux. Disgraced ex-Greenpeacer Patrick Moore (who also sells clear-cut forests and genetically modified food) is portrayed as an “environmentalist” rather than an industry employee.

That’s not to say all reactor advocates do it for the money. Certainly some have grown on their own to like nuke power.

But $645 million—SIX HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION—can buy a lot of opinion going one way, and suppresses a lot going the other. Op eds, air time, “independent” reports, phony claims that “green” nukes can solve global warming…not to mention campaign “donations,” fact-finding junkets, political fundraisers, K-Street dinners…all can be had for a trifling drip from the mega-slush fund.

The latest payback is Barack Obama’s $8.33 billion in promised loan guarantees for two new nukes proposed in Georgia. Two old ones came in at 3000% over budget at a site where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warns the proposed new ones might crumble in an earthquake or hurricane.

As Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! points out, Team Obama has taken VERY goodly chunks of that $645 million from Chicago’s nuke-loving Exelon. Despite his campaign hype for a green revolution, Obama’s first two named advisors, David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel, were proud Exelon “associates.”

Now Obama wants taxpayers to pony up $36 billion MORE in loan guarantees. (John McCain wants a mere trillion).

All this BEFORE the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations are “persons” who can spend without limit to buy Congress and the media. The cash pouring into the pockets of politicians voting for still more taxpayer money to build still more reactors will parallel the gusher of radiation that poured from Chernobyl.

But does this mean the flood of new reactors is inevitable?

NO!

Despite that cash tsunami, grassroots activists stopped $50 billion in loan guarantees three times since 2007. No new US reactor construction has started since the 1970s, when public opinion was over 70% in favor of atomic power, and Richard Nixon promised 1000 US reactors by the year 2000.

With green jobs advocate Van Jones ditched and Obama now openly in the nuclear camp, atomic energy is still a loser.

It can’t solve its waste problems, can’t operate without leaking radiation, can’t pay for itself and can’t get private insurance against terror or error.

Once hyped as “too cheap to meter,” Warren Buffett, the National Taxpayers Union, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute are among those joining the Congressional Budget Office in warning that atomic energy is really “too expensive to matter.”

With all those hundreds of millions to spend, the reactor backers are still selling a technological corpse. With licensing and construction and the inevitable unforeseen, not one new US reactor can come on line in less than seven years.

Meanwhile, renewable/efficiency prices will continue to plummet. And grassroots opposition will not stop, as in Vermont and wherever else reactors operate or are proposed.

As Abe Lincoln reminds us: you can’t buy all the people all the time. And the ones that can’t be bought CAN be damn powerful.

Those loan guarantees, all that hype about a new nuclear age…they are NOT a done deal. They still must withstand a Solartopian revolution in green technology that’s left atomic power in its economic dust…and a human species whose core instincts DEMAND economic and ecological survival.

So when you hear some hired gun selling nukes, remember: even $645 million can buy only so much green lipstick for a dead radioactive pig.

And when Nature bats last, the final score is not about cash.

Original article: http://blog.buzzflash.com/contributors/3019

No Dirty Power for Jobs: VY Attempts Last Minute Bribe

Vermont Yankee makes cut rate power offer on eve of Senate vote

Hodes calls for plant shutdown until tritium leak is fixed

The Associated Press

//
MONTPELIER – The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is offering cut-rate power to help the state build jobs – and to try to preserve its own operations.

Plant officials on Tuesday announced the Power for Jobs package that would reserve 25 megawatts of power from the Vernon plant that would be made available for economic development projects in Vermont at 4 cents per kilowatt hour.

The offer comes a day before the Vermont Senate was due to hold a vote on whether to allow the Vernon reactor to continue operating beyond the expiration of its current license in 2012.

The aging plant has been beset with problems in recent months. Since the beginning of the year, engineers have been searching for the leak of radioactive tritium from pipes on the grounds of the plant.

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin says he expects the 25-megawatt offer from Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp. will have no effect on the Senate debate set for Wednesday.

Also Tuesday, New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes called Vermont Yankee to be shut down immediately until the tritium leak is fixed.

Hodes, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, said that “reckless behavior, deliberate cover-ups and unfruitful internal investigations” by plant officials have undermined the trust of New Hampshire citizens who live near the plant.

Read the entire article: http://www.reformer.com/ci_14455061

Enough cover-ups: Shut Vermont Yankee Down Now

NRC: Tritium Leaked From Vt. Yankee In 2005

NH Lawmakers Call For Federal Investigation

POSTED: 11:34 pm EST February 22, 2010
UPDATED: 12:00 am EST February 23, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire lawmakers are calling for a federal investigation after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed Monday a leak of the radioactive substance tritium that took place years before the leak currently under investigation at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.Last week, a whistleblower brought a 2005 tritium leak to the attention of investigators, and now, the NRC said it happened and it’s under investigation along with another tritium leak reported in the recent months.

Read the entire article at http://www.wmur.com/news/22640191/detail.html

Last week & the week ahead: Tales of a toxic, old nuke plant

So, where are we now, my friends?

Vermont Yankee is leaking radioactive materialsWell, over a month has passed since the leak of radioactive tritium was discovered at Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vermont. They first reported the issue on January 7th.  And they still can’t seem to locate it. That’s 44 days and counting that radioactive materials have been leaking into the groundwater at Vermont Yankee.

They were doing some excavating to try to find it, but they ran into a few snags there, so they had to suspend that project last Wednesday. Apparently in all their careful planning, they didn’t account for irregularly shaped concrete forms in the foundation and structure of the advanced off gas pipe tunnel. Whoops. Yeah, and then there are those large rocks they are trying to figure out how to remove. I’m NOT kidding. I wish I was.

[Evacuation of pipes still on hold at Vermont Yankee, 02/20/10:
http://www.reformer.com/ci_14438160]

The radioactive tritium has reached the Connecticut River. And as I drove by the plant this morning, I noted a dozen or more ice fishermen within the same line of sight. Are they eating the fish they catch? I hope not.

[Vt. Health Chief: Tritium May in Connecticut River, 02/09/10:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/02/09/business/AP-US-Vermont-Yankee.html]

This week, it was disclosed that trace amounts of Cobalt-60 were also discovered in the pipe tunnel. Although Cobalt-60 has a shorter half-life — 5.27 years — than tritium, it is a gamma emitter, rather than a weak beta emitter like tritium, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC.

Not to focus too much on the health risks of exposure to radiation, it is worthwhile to note that those exposed to a gamma emitter such as cobalt-60 are at significant risk, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

[Trace amounts of cobalt-60 found, 02/19/10:
http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_14430975]

And these jokers are still trying to create a new “shell corporation” called Enexus to transfer ownership (AND LIABILITY) of 6 of these old, toxic plants. Hmmmm… why would they do a thing like that? And why would any seemingly intelligent government official entertain – for even a moment – that this might be a good idea? Give me a break, fellas. I’m no contract lawyer, but that sure smells of manure to me!

[Legislative Leaders Say Administration Should Oppose Enexus, 1/25-26/10:
http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/87002/]

And here’s the icing on the cake. Entergy Nuclear still wants to continue operation of the toxic nightmare that is Vermont Yankee for another 20 years. I heard a pathetic lobbying ad on the radio on my drive home today, paid for by Vermont Yankee, urging Vermonters to call their senators in support of extending the license for this old plant to protect the supposed 1,300 jobs they provide and all that mountain of tax revenue received from the plant and its employees. Is there really even one person who can look me in the eyes and tell me that it is worth extending the license of a nuke plant that is currently leaking radioactive materials for an additional twenty years beyond what it was designed for? I couldn’t see the justification if the whole damn state worked at the plant! If you’re all dying of cancer, would it be worth keeping your jobs?

And so now we come to the week ahead.

Wednesday, February 24, has been decided as the date that the Vermont senate will vote on whether to give the Public Service Board the go-ahead to rule on the plant’s request to operate for another 20 years. As far as the wishy-washy governor is concerned, the vote means nothing. Yet a NO vote could delay another relicensing vote for up to a year, and send an appropriately strong message to Entergy that their business practices are unacceptable with regard to public safety and basic corporate responsibility. Senators, VOTE NO.

[Senate panel sets up Yankee vote, 02/19/10:
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20100219/NEWS03/100218041/Senate-panel-sets-up-Yankee-vote
]

So there you have it. This is the pathetic and dangerous situation we currently face. If you see the logic in closing the plant, please let your representatives know it. Their votes should represent your views on Wednesday. But you need to express those views to be represented. Please don’t sit idle… because every day that passes renders these beautiful lands less habitable for you, your kids, and your grandkids… and then some. I love Vermont, and I can’t imagine that Vermonters would allow some greedy corporation from Louisiana to spoil it for lack of caution and care.

Take Vermont back, Vermonters. Now’s your chance.

Massachusetts residents living downstream from Vermont Yankee tell Douglas to shut down the plant now

From: http://vtdigger.org/2010/02/11/massachusetts-residents-living-downstream-from-vermont-yankee-tell-douglas-to-shut-down-the-plant-now/

February 11, 2010

Dear Governor Douglas:

I believe the tritium leak at ENVY is a greater environmental disaster than you realize. Just one gram of tritium contaminates 500 billion liters of water up to the fed. limit of 20,000pCi/L. The leak has been allowed to continue at full speed for over one month. The level of tritiated water found in groundwater monitoring wells is now at 2.7 million pCi/L, near the level of the reactor water itself.  This represents a breach of containment, understood as the systems in the reactor and powerplant intended to isolate radioactive contamination from the public.

The groundwater belongs to the public, not to ENVY. ENVY’s leak has polluted our groundwater to the second highest level of all tritium leaks from reactors in the country. NRC rules have allowed contamination of groundwater resources at 27 leaking nuclear reactors. This is illegal in Vermont. Your agencies can stop the leak by shutting down the reactor, but they are waiting for you to give the nod. You must protect public trust resources. Please instruct your agencies (DPS, ANR, VDH) to act swiftly to turn off the reactor water that is contaminating the groundwater by shutting down the reactor.

It is not necessary to run the reactor at overpressure levels to find the leak. Drilling wells just maps the toxicity and extent of the plume, it does not find the leak. All power plants have design drawings, sophisticated gauges and flow meters on their pipes and engineers who can do mass balance calculations to detect leaks.  This has gone on far too long, is based on industry lies and incompetence and NRC tolerance of groundwater pollution, and MUST BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. Please do the right thing and act.

Thank you for your rapid consideration of my concerns.

Sally Shaw

Gill, Mass.

An 11th generation Vermonter and mother, living in the EPZ.

A letter from Sally Shaw’s husband, Bart Bales, follows.

Leak detection in plant systems with regard to the VT Yankee tritium leak.

By Bart Bales, P.E., M.S.M.E

February 9, 2010

This is an evaluation of the facts surrounding the VT Yankee tritium leak as reported in the press and to the public through the VT Dept. of Health’s website. It is the opinion of a registered mechanical engineer with twenty-five years of professional experience in energy engineering. It provides approaches to leak detection in power plant piping systems in general, and evaluates the approach being employed, according to public information, to find the tritium leak at VT Yankee.

1.    A plant operator should have up-to-date schematics for all piping and the expected pressures and flow rates throughout the piping network.

2.    Design pipe layouts and as-built pipe layouts are necessary elements for responsible operation and maintenance of a power plant.

3.    Use of design and as-built drawings and specifications along with gauge and instrumentation operating parameters should provide information sufficient to determine expected flow rates and pressures in the piping networks.

4.    The design documents at VT Yankee should enable plant personnel to identify a limited number of pipes that could contain tritiated water.

5.    Plant personnel should determine actual flows through and between elements and components of those piping networks that contain tritium, and determine quantities in various storage vessels by a mass balance calculation.

6.    These calculations can determine flows from within the plant enclosure to the piping network and storage vessels outside the enclosure and should provide information sufficient to identify the leaking pipe loop.

7.    Differences in flows into and out of parts of the network can help localize the leak as the mass balance will indicate a shortfall in expected values for the piping network containing the leak.

8.    This is a more prudent approach to leak detection that can allow the plant system to be operated at lower and safer pressures and flow rates until the leak is found and repaired.

9.    It is expected that there would be existing flow meters on all the various piping loops, especially those conveying radioactive liquids or gases. These should be calibrated, serviced or replaced and rendered reliably functional to determine flow rates and diagnose leaks.

10.     Maintenance of full pressure ratings throughout the power plant should not be necessary to accomplish leak detection. Maintenance of even moderate pressures in the piping will produce a sufficient gradient for leak detection.

11.     There is no justification for maintaining pressures at uprated or even original design conditions for leak detection.

12.     Fluid flow through holes in the leaking pipes erodes the edges of these holes.  Larger holes result in even higher rates of leakage.

13.     It should be recognized that the higher the pressure the greater the flow through leaks, and the faster the introduction of contaminants into the groundwater.

14.     A higher influx rate into the groundwater increases the rate of migration of the plume into adjacent areas and into the Connecticut River.

15.     A more responsible leak detection protocol would be to shut down the plant, evaluate and model analytically, prioritizing the pipe systems most likely to be leaking tritium, then test each system progressively in order of probability that it is the source of the leak.

16.     This approach to leak detection methods from inside the plant employs existing flow gauges or installation of mechanical measuring gauges, and use of ultrasonic or inflow measurements.

17.     For a plant operator or engineer to lack knowledge of location of piping networks and their contents is an unacceptable situation, especially in the handling of potentially hazardous fluids.

NY Public Service Commission Judges Apprehensive of Finanial Viability; Shelve Enexus to Fiscal 2010

Staying Neutral on Entergy as Spinoff Is Delayed

http://seekingalpha.com/article/163802-staying-neutral-on-entergy-as-spinoff-is-delayed

Entergy Corp.’s (ETR – Analyst Report) proposed spin-off of its Non-utility Nuclear power business has been relegated to fiscal 2010.

Recently, the New York Public Service Commission’s two administrative law judges in a ruling stated their apprehension regarding the new company having the financial viability to operate three units located in the state of New York. Of this, two units are located in the Indian Point Energy Center in Westchester County and a reactor at the James A. Fitzpatrick station in Oswego County.

The New York Public Service Commission expressed its apprehension that the $3.5 billion worth of long-term unsecured bonds that Entergy plans to issue for the spin-off will drag down the bond rating of the new company, affecting its financial capacity. The Commission has also relegated its next hearing to December 2009 followed by a final decision on the spin-off in January 2010.

Read the entire article >

Entergy can’t be trusted

Big thanks go out to Gary Sachs for stating what so many of us believe… with clarity, logic and passion.

Published: August 6, 2009 by the Rutland Herald

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20090806/OPINION02/908060304

“Yes officer I was speeding, but it was an oversight.” This tactic generally doesn’t work.

“We measured the temperature but forgot to check the radioactivity,” says the largest radioactive emitter in the state.

“We agreed to a memorandum of understanding and then forgot to implement what we understood,” says the same company.

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee forgot to measure the radioactivity coming off the dry cask storage installation. It is now August. The 2008 fence line dose monitoring data is still not available.

Entergy wants permission to operate another 20 years.

Entergy wants permission to expand their fence line boundary.

Entergy wants permission to spin off Vermont Yankee and a few other reactors into Enexus.

What is wrong with this picture?

In 1967 the Vermont state Legislature agreed to host an in-state nuclear reactor for 40 years, not 60. In 2006, Entergy won permission to store waste in dry casks as long as the radiation off the casks was measured. They forgot.

Where is the common courtesy, aka, compliance with the state that Entergy promised Chairman Dworkin of the Public Service Board in 2002 during the sale case?

Entergy does not show that they can keep their word to the chair of the regulatory board, and Entergy does not hold up its end of the agreements it signs with the Department of Public Service. Clearly one should not reward these poor behaviors with extended operation. Please encourage your state representative and senator to vote against continued operation beyond 2012.

GARY SACHS
Brattleboro

Entergy reports dry-storage containers were not monitored

NEI SmartBrief | 08/05/2009

Aging plant goes unmonitoredThe Vermont Public Service Board says Entergy Nuclear forgot until six weeks ago that it was supposed to monitor radiation from dry-storage containers at Vermont Yankee. Entergy Nuclear reported Friday that it had not complied with the monitoring requirement in its 2006 state permit “due to an oversight.” “We are a self-critical organization, and we found this could have been prevented with better checking within several departments,” said Entergy spokesman Robert Williams. Rutland Herald (Vt.) (08/04)

Bribery will get you nowhere… if people are AWAKE

From the PUTNAM COUNTY NEWS and RECORDER in Cold Spring, NY on 5/20/09:

Entergy Contributes to Fire Hall

Entergy, which operates the Indian Point nuclear generating plant in Buchanan, NY, recently contributed $15,000 to the new North Highlands Fire Department fire hall on Fishkill Rd. The hall would be used for decontamination purposes in the event of an incident at Indian Point.

http://www.pcnr.com/news/2009/0520/general_stories/013.html

Entergy pushes ahead with Enexus spin-off

By Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO — By the end of July, Entergy Nuclear hopes to have an answer from New York and Vermont on whether the spin-off of six nuclear reactors into a separate holding company will be allowed to go ahead.

“We continue to see value in pursuing a spin-off of Enexus, which will have our non-utility nuclear assets,” said J. Wayne Leonard, Entergy’s chief executive officer, during an earnings call on May 4.

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is owned and operated by Entergy, is one of the six reactors Entergy wants to spin off into a new company called Enexus.

Those six reactors are called “merchant plants” or “standalone assets” because they sell power to the open market.

Other reactors owned by Entergy Nuclear, and which will remain under its umbrella, produce power with a cost that is regulated by a government entity.

Entergy needs a certificate of public good from Vermont’s Public Service Board to include Vermont Yankee in the spin-off. But if the board listens to the Department of Public Service, it won’t get the certificate.

“We do not support the transaction, primarily because Entergy is investment grade and Enexus is not,” said Sarah Hofmann, public advocate for DPS. “Why would we want to go with a lesser company? We don’t believe the transaction would promote the public good.”

Read the full story >http://www.reformer.com/ci_12333053

Words of fury, despair

Vermont Yankee is old and unsafe

Vermont Yankee is old and unsafe

An editorial published on RutlandHerald.com:

Vermont Yankee produces about 30 tons a year of the most toxic and long-lasting waste known to man, which will stay forever on the banks of the Connecticut River in casks that, over its half-life of 250,000 years, will crack every 100 years or so, leaving this unspeakable waste to thousands of generations of our children (if they live). Ray Shadis called it “the gift that keeps on killing.” Every minute of the day and night it releases radioactive material in the air, none of which is safe, and since children are most vulnerable, they, our children, have been and will continue to be, victims of cancers and leukemias as long as the reactor is rattling along like a broken down old car.

On top of all that there is a sneaky connection between nuclear reactors and the military, with “depleted” uranium (which is making the world for the world’s children a radioactive wasteland) and nuclear bombs, which are all part of the atom-smashing process. Helen Caldecott called Vermont Yankee a “cancer and a bomb factory that must be shut down.”

I understand completely why Sally Shaw placed compost (which she called “good waste”) on the table behind which Entergy’s officials and the NRC sat. Anyone who doesn’t understand, and because of that, not only condemns her, but in the Legislature, might vote to poison us and keep us in constant fear for our children and grandchildren for 20 more years, was never on the side of desperate parents and grandparents anyway, and care nothing about our children.

There are times when I am so tired of feeling sad, hopeless, and cynical in the face of corporate power, that I can hardly find the right words. However, criticism of Sally’s despair and fury, which I share, made me find some.

Thank you, Sally.

JANE NEWTON
South Londonderry

(Thank YOU, Jane. You are NOT alone!)

We don’t need dirty money for our playgrounds

Vermont Yankee needs a “Certificate of Public Good” in order to get the 20-year extention to operate beyond the nuclear power plant’s scheduled closing. In a county of just over 40,000 people, there were approximately 75 who bothered to show up for the latest meeting of Vermont’s public service board to weigh in on whether Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee deserve the required certification.

According to the Brattleboro Reformer’s news story of May 1 (http://www.reformer.com/ci_12270340), the audience appeared evenly split on whether to grant this certificate or not. Reporter Bob Audette notes that those opposed focused on the environmental impact, the potential costs involved, and the negative impact the over-extended plant will have on the Vermont brand.

Those in favor of granting the certificate seemed to focus only on the tens of thousands of dollars that Entergy has “donated” to local non-profits, as if the local towns would suffer harshly without such charity. It seems to me that a rudimentary review of profits reaped by Entergy Nuclear versus their supposedly charitable investment in local towns would render this argument laughable in the face of the financial burden their spent fuel rods will cost to contain and secure once they have divested themselves of the no-longer-viable plant… twenty years beyond when it was scheduled to close… twenty years beyond when it was built to last.

Let us remember that we were promised a national storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods… the Yucca Mountain fantasy that will never be. Have we considered the financial burden to the state and to the country based on the reality that the facility will never be built? Has any Vermonter looked over to Maine to review the state costs related to the decomissioning of Maine Yankee in light of the lack of federal safe-keeping of their spent fuel rods?

Fuck Entergy’s playgrounds. Who the hell wants a new playground built from the supposed charitable contributions from a corporation who maintains facilities like this?

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee on August 21, 2007

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee on August 21, 2007

June 18, 2004 - Fire at Vermont Yankee

June 18, 2004 - Fire at Vermont Yankee

Are your tire swings worth it? Why don’t you show the children these photos and ask them if they think it’s worth it to accept their money for playgrounds or little league? I trust that the children will know better. In fact, I already know that they do know better.

A “Certificate of Public Good”? You must be JOKING. Where is the public good in this equation? It DOES NOT EXIST.

Wake up, Vermont. These Louisiana folks are not your friends… and no amount of playground building changes the fact that they want to squeeze as much profit out of a dangerously aging nuclear power plant as they are able to, without regard for the potential short- and long-term financial burdens placed on the state and its residents.

Do not sit idle while your playgrounds are glowing. WAKE UP. Please.

NRC definitely having “issues” dealing with New England

Nuclear Regulatory Commission under fire over fire

Rep. Markey looking for answers from regulators on Pilgrim safety oversight


The Patriot Ledger
Posted Nov 05, 2008 @ 05:30 AM

QUINCY —

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is using a fire last week at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth to turn up the heat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Markey sent a letter to the federal agency on Friday, posing a long list of questions about the Oct. 29 fire in an outbuilding at the plant property that the plant operator says was contained to one room.

The Malden Democrat, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, has longstanding concerns about the NRC’s oversight of its fire safety rules. Markey believes that the agency isn’t doing enough to ensure that nuclear plant operators meet or exceed the agency’s fire safety standards.

“I have yet to be persuaded that the NRC is on a path to do the right thing and require the nation’s plants to be brought (into) compliance with NRC’s fire protection regulations,” Markey wrote in the letter to NRC Chairman Dale Klein. “This latest event only heightens my concern and my interest in assuring that all appropriate measures are undertaken to protect these facilities against dangerous fires.”

Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the nuclear agency, said the two NRC inspectors assigned to the plant are investigating the fire’s cause and reviewing plant owner Entergy Corp.’s steps to ensure such a fire doesn’t happen again. Screnci said the agency received Markey’s letter and will respond as quickly as possible to the congressman.

Read the entire story >

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee is counting on YOU

… to help bear the expense of cleaning things up once the plant is at last permitted to enter its delayed retirement.

TimesArgus.com reports an AP story by Dave Gram [http://www.timesargus.com/article/20081119/NEWS02/811190355/1003/NEWS02] :

Vermont Yankee decommissioning fund suffers large loss

November 19, 2008

A sign warns of radioactivity inside the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. State officials note the fund that holds money for decommissioning the plant has taken another big hit.

A sign warns of radioactivity inside the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. State officials note the fund that holds money for decommissioning the plant has taken another big hit.

MONTPELIER — The fund set aside to pay for dismantling the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant when it shuts down was already about $400 million short of what would be needed to do the job, according to an estimate by a subsidiary of the plant’s owner.

Then it lost nearly $76 million more amid the turmoil in the financial markets during the past 13 months, with more than $33 million of that loss coming last month, according to the state Department of Public Service.

The health of the decommissioning fund — money set aside to haul away the plant’s radioactive components when it is retired — has been a hot issue this year. Gov. Jim Douglas vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature calling on Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Nuclear to shore up the fund, amid complaints from lawmakers that

Vermonters might end up stuck with the bill

.

Read More >

Another fire at a New England nuclear plant

As seen in the Boston Globe this morning…

A “small” fire was extinguished at Pilgrim Nuclear Station that supposedly started in a cabinet where safety equipment is calibrated. Rest assured, citizens of New England, because there were no injuries and according to the report, no radioactivity was released in the fire.

(Do you think they would tell you if it was?)

Reassuringly, the fire was classified as an “unusual event” because it took more than ten minutes to extinguish and off-site responders were needed. (Thankfully, these were members of the Plymouth Fire Department and not Chernobyl’s Liquidators.)

Hey good people of Massachusetts… WAKE THE HELL UP!

And PLEASE don’t forget that no matter who our next president will be, SAFE NUCLEAR POWER IS AN OXYMORON.

Cooling towers at Vermont Yankee continue to be uncool

State wants more tower inspections

By BOB AUDETTE, Reformer Staff

Saturday, September 20
BRATTLEBORO — Recent problems with Vermont Yankee’s cooling towers “are totally unacceptable,” stated Vermont Department of Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien, in a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We need your help in getting to the bottom of these repeated cooling tower failures,” O’Brien wrote Friday, requesting the NRC conduct additional inspections of the system.

Recently, the NRC sent an inspection team to the nuclear power plant in Vernon to determine whether prior cooling tower problems were affecting the operation of a cooling fan cell designed to be available during an emergency.

The NRC has not yet indicated when that report will be available to the public.

“Our special inspection of the cooling tower leakage identified at Vermont Yankee in July is still open,” wrote NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan, in an e-mail to the Reformer. “We are evaluating the most recent event against what we saw during the special inspection.”

On Tuesday morning, a Yankee maintenance worker discovered a 60-gallon-per-minute leak in the pipe that feeds water to the east bank of cooling fans.

Yankee has two banks of 11 cooling fan cells each. In August 2007, one of the 11 cells in the west bank collapsed due to the failure of rotted wooden support members.

Yankee management admitted the collapse was due to shortcomings in the plant’s tower maintenance and inspection program.

During the in-house review, Yankee technicians developed a program to replace certain wooden supports with fiberglass supports.

On Wednesday, Yankee employees identified several wooden beams that required replacement ahead of the schedule created after the August 2007 collapse.

Last month, brackets used to attach the header pipe to new fiberglass supports in the east tower failed, causing a leak of about 100 gallons per minute. The leak was blamed on a faulty bracket design.

“The cooling towers have presented problems over the last two years with leaks due to faulty or degraded materials that comprise the towers,” stated DPS spokesman Stephen Wark, in an e-mail announcing the letter to the NRC. “We are asking the NRC to come back and do additional inspections to determine if this new development impacts safety or the seismically rated cells.”

If there is any “new and significant information,” that arises from this latest leak, wrote Sheehan, the NRC has the option of keeping the special inspection open to further evaluate the cooling towers.

“We’ll review (O’Brien’s) request and respond to it in a timely manner,” wrote Sheehan. “As we’ve noted in the past, our primary focus is on the safety-related cell in the west cooling tower since that could, under some very low-probability scenarios, be needed for the shutdown of the plant.”

One cooling fan cell of the west tower is specially designed to withstand natural disasters such as an earthquake or hurricane. The NRC’s special inspection team came to Vernon to evaluate the safety cell’s integrity in light of the recent problems with the cooling towers.

Entergy, which owns and operates Vermont Yankee, has applied to the NRC to extend the power plant’s operating license for another 20 years, from 2012 to 2032. The NRC has indicated it has found no significant safety or environmental reasons for not issuing the license renewal and is expected to release it final decision in November.

Vermont’s Public Service Board is conducting hearings to determine whether Yankee should receive a certificate of public good to continue operations past 2012. The PSB must decide whether keeping the plant online for another 20 years is in the best interest of Vermonters.

The state Legislature also has the power to prohibit continued operation of the plant.

To inform both the PSB and the Legislature, “a thorough, independent, and public assessment of the reliability of the systems, structures, and components of the Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee facility” was authorized by the state.

“Our comprehensive vertical audit inspection team will be looking at the failures from a reliability standpoint through engineering and management assessments,” wrote Wark.

A spokesman for Vermont Yankee said plant managers were working with DPS and the NRC to make sure both agencies get the information they need. The spokesman had no comment on the DPS request for additional inspections.

“The NRC will do what is appropriate,” said Larry Smith. “They’ve been fully briefed on the cooling tower issue.”

The plant was expected to be back up to 100 percent early Friday night.

Original article: http://www.reformer.com/ci_10516112

DEC says Indian Point affecting aquatic life

From North County News (http://www.northcountynews.com/news/ncn_news2.asp)

By Abby Luby

Photo courtesy of the NRC

Photo courtesy of the NRC

An example of a cooling tower – this one is about 70-feet tall; a mechanical draft cooling tower at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

State wants new cooling system

In a long-awaited landmark decision, New York State has formally ruled that the water cooling system at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants adversely affects aquatic life in the Hudson River and that the system has to be replaced.

For the last 30 years local environmental groups have been appealing to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to enforce the Clean Water Act by ordering Indian Point to replace its outdated water cooling system. Studies have shown the system has been responsible for killing about 1.2 billion fish a year. That number includes fish eggs, as well as small and large fish.

The water cooling system takes in and flushes out over 2.5 billion gallons of river water daily. Water going inside the plant absorbs the heat of the turbines that produce electricity and then the heated water returns to the river affecting aquatic life.

The DEC ruling signals the first time the state has gone on record saying Indian Point’s current cooling system kills fish. The news pleased environmental groups such as Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Scenic Hudson, who have long argued for a new water cooling system.

“We’ve won the argument that the water cooling system has adverse affects,” said Phillip Museegas of Riverkeeper. “That’s a big one for us.”

Hearings will now be held next spring to hear arguments to determine what cooling system is best for Indian Point.

Jim Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, which owns Indian Point, said the DEC decision was fair because it allows for the energy company’s input.

“The process that was laid out gives us ample opportunity to make our case about the cooling methods which will make the most sense for Indian Point,” he said.

In effect, the DEC ruling said Entergy can no longer argue that its system doesn’t impact fish, said DEC spokesperson Yancy Roy.

“The decision means that the state is recommending Indian Point use closed cycle cooling,” Roy said. “But there are other mileposts to be met.”

Now both sides can raise questions about feasibility, impacts and alternatives to closed cycle cooling.

Indian Point currently uses a water cooling system known as “once-through” cooling, a relatively inexpensive system that helps generate power efficiently. The down side of once-through cooling is that the system traps larger fish against the intake screens. The smaller fish and larvae are sucked past the screens and into the cooling system. To date, 60 nuclear power plants of the 103 in the United States use once-through cooling systems.

The environmentally friendly “closed-cycle” cooling re-circulates the water in a closed system, substantially reducing the large amount of water needed from the Hudson River. The system also cools the returning water, lessening the effects on aquatic life.

The DEC has been extending Indian Point’s Clean Water Act permit using the once-through system since 1981. At that time a deal was made with then owner Con Ed that allowed the utility to operate without installing closed cycle cooling by agreeing not to construct a pump storage facility at Storm King, on the west side of the Hudson River.

Con Ed’s permit expired in 1992 but the DEC continued to issue temporary operating permits. In 2003, the DEC granted another permit stipulating that Entergy, who purchased Indian Point in 2001, install closed cycle cooling. Entergy has been challenging that ruling for the last five years.

Taking years to get a DEC ruling on the negative impacts on aquatic life seemed to be a convoluted process compounded by the industry deregulation of the 1990s, said Warren Reiss, general counsel for Scenic Hudson.

“Privately owned utilities were fighting tooth and nail against installing closed cycle cooling,” Reiss said. “These utilities have huge resources and hire hordes of lawyers, engineers and biologists – the best money can buy. If closed cycle cooling costs them tens of millions of dollars to install, they are very happy to spend just $1 million a year on lawyers to avoid that. To date, they have been very successful.”

Entergy has maintained that a new closed cycle cooling system would mean building huge cooling towers similar to the large concrete chimneys at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and would be cost prohibitive.

“We’ve done a study of cost estimates and the system that would be most appropriate for Indian Point will cost about $1.5 billion,” said Steets. “The towers wouldn’t be quite as big as Three Mile Island, but they would be about 100 feet wide and 150 feet tall. That would triple the footprint of Indian Point.”

Grassroot groups working to shutter Indian Point, such as Westchester Citizens Awareness Network (WESTCAN), have said the large, expensive cooling towers proposed by Entergy are propaganda.

“They talk about the costliest and most obtrusive technology available,” said Marilyn Elie, co-founder of WESTCAN. “They say that it’s economically unfeasible when they really have no intention of using such a system. It’s a bait-and-switch tactic geared towards scaring the public.”

Don Jackson, branch chief of Region One for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said there are many different types of cooling systems from which to choose.

“It all depends on the needs of the plant,” he said. “Engineers from Indian Point will have to make a business decision on that.”

The NRC doesn’t have an opinion on what kind of cooling system is chosen because it doesn’t usually impact the safe, day-to-day operation of the plant, Jackson added.

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant on the Connecticut River in Vermont is also owned by Entergy and employs a cooling system with banks of 20 towers that are 70-feet tall.

Steets said that millions of dollars have already been spent upgrading the cooling system at Indian Point. The upgraded system now has variable speed pumps that limit the intake of water from the river and a fishery turn-screen that intercepts fish before being brought into the plant.

“In the last 15 years, Entergy, and Con Ed have spent over $40 million upgrading the cooling system for units 1 and 2,” Steets said. “So does it really make sense to replace the cooling system that has just a marginal impact? That’s the question that needs to be resolved.”

The DEC spring hearings will resemble a trial setting and will be open to the public.

“We are cautiously optimistic that this will result in a final decision requiring Indian Point to implement closed cycle cooling,” said Reiss.